JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Air Force One touched down in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. President Bush has come to the Holy Land for the first time as president of the United States.This is a very interesting - and outlandish - slander.Palestinian Arab newspapers have been keeping a "death count" of people who have died, supposedly because Israel is not allowing them to travel from Gaza. For reasons that were never clear, this count started about two months ago - even though the "siege" started in June - and there has been a steady stream of articles, pretty much once a day, of another "martyr" who died because of Israeli intransigence. That number is now at around 66.
But he's trapped inside his security bubble, his every step mapped out in great and precise detail by teams of security experts and handlers. In the end he'll see a side of this unhappy land that bears as much resemblance to reality as Hollywood does to real life.
I spend a lot of my time covering the West Bank and Gaza: here's what I see, and he won't....
President Bush won't see the hospital wards where babies, just weeks old, are dying because their doctors can't get permission from Israeli authorities to go to Israel for treatment as they did in the past.
I touched on this topic in November as Gazans were blaming Israel for some interesting deaths. I have not kept a close eye on the circumstances of each death since then, but the majority have been cancer patients or other extremely ill patients. It is pure propaganda - given the mortality rate among Gazans is 3.74 per thousand annually, one would expect with 1.3 million Gazans that some 13 of them die per day of natural causes; to say that these 66 deaths - less than 3% - are Israel's fault is simply to make things up. The fact that these deaths only started after four months of the Gaza closure and have been consistently reported as about once a day since then indicates that some Gaza administrator is choosing who the "death of the day" will be out of the dozen dying in hospitals anyway.
But assuming that each of those cases were true, and 66 people have died because Israel didn't give them permission to go to Israel for treatment (and neither did Egypt, but we'll ignore that for now,) then how many of these were "babies, just weeks old"? I don't recall any babies in the list, but I wasn't watching that closely. The rabidly hateful IMEMC reported on #62 and #63 last Saturday:
So according to the Gazans, the youngest one they blame Israel for was 5 months old. But CNN's Ben Wedeman, who proudly boasts of his intimate knowledge of the area, claims that there are a constant stream of weeks-old babies dying.
Medical sources in Gaza reported...that Aisha Al Jamal, 73, had lung cancer but the army refused to allow her to leave the Coastal Region to get treatment in Israel or the West Bank.
Another Palestinian cancer patient, Mohamed Abu Taha, 45, died late on Friday night; he also was not allowed by the Israeli army to leave the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army has imposed a total siege on the Gaza Strip since June 2007, leaving the 1.5 million Palestinians living under severe conditions.
Al Jamal is the 63rd person who has died of a chronic illness since Israel placed the Gaza Strip under total siege. Among those 63 were children, the youngest was Doua Habib, who was five months old.
CNN is outdoing Hamas in its blood libel against Israel, and Ben Wedeman continues to shill for Hamas.